Cyclists bring junction to standstill with rush hour protest

Thursday, 12th January 2012

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Published: 12 January 2012
by TOM FOOT

AROUND 200 cyclists and road safety campaigners brought King’s Cross to a standstill for an hour on Monday night.

It arose from the death of fashion student Deep Lee at the junction of York Way and Gray’s Inn Road back in October.

Cyclists sat down in the path of buses, cement mixers and black taxis as they tinkled their bells and chanted: “Whose streets? Our streets.”

Bikes Alive campaigner Albert Beale, who organised the “occupy”-style protest, said: “Years of polite lobbying has got us nowhere.

So many cyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users have had enough, and have decided the time has come to resist.”

The non-violent protest, set to be repeated later this month, caused fury among drivers stuck in the rush-hour traffic and many impatiently revved their engines.

The mood among those taking part was of mild-mannered militancy.

The action was boycotted by some established cycling campaign groups who feared the it might go to far.

Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones, however, did take part.

One cyclist, who did not want to be named, said: “I would not call this a protest.

I came here because I thought we were going to actually do something here.

“My problem is that cyclists get put in three categories: cyclists the problem, cyclists the nuisance and cyclists the victim.

I’m none of the above.”

The cyclist, from Hackney, was standing next to another cyclist, in a giant bicycle cruiser machine.

Speaking under the alias of “Professor Kayoss”, the man, who was aged around 60, said he had named his machine after Mr Beale.

He said: “I call the machine Albert Wheele Heel – it’s Cockney rhyming slang.”

As word got out of the protest’s effectiveness, many more cyclists arrived.

They rode very slowly around the one-way system – pausing at each crossing and stopping more traffic.

Pedestrians joined them in the main roads and began chanting about safety issues.

Camden Council chiefs met with Transport for London (TfL) on Tuesday to discuss ripping out the one-way system in King’s Cross following intense pressure to improve cycle safety.

Activists say the planned changes to the junction do not go far enough, despite concessions made by TfL to widen the approach to York Way from Gray’s Inn Road. Campaigners want a green bicycle lane approaching the junction.

Lib Dem councillor Paul Braithwaite, Camden’s “cycling champion”, who joined the protest, said: “Nothing less than a green cycling lane through the junction and in the 30-metre run-up in Gray’s Inn Road will suffice.”

He said he remained “extremely concerned” about the junction of Camden Road with St Pancras Way where 27-year-old cyclist Paula Jurek was killed last year.

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